MILWAUKEE — FOX6 News has learned there will be no criminal charges filed against a man caught on camera standing on an American flag that was later seen burning outside the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee on November 10th.
According to officials with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office told FOX6 News a decision was made not to charge Corey Kirkwood criminally — but this case was referred to the city of Milwaukee for consideration of a citation.
During the November Republican presidential debate — hundreds took to the streets of downtown Milwaukee — protesting in support of a number of different issues.
After the debate, it was one small group getting the most attention.
Corey Kirkwood spoke with FOX6 News about the allegations against him.
“I was basically displaying my First Amendment right. I didn’t ever put anything on fire down at the convention,” Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood stepped on the American flag, and laid next to it while it was on fire.
But he says he’s not the one who lit it up.
“I had my freedom of speech to stand on that flag, to lay next to that flag that was burning,” Kirkwood said.
Two days after the convention, talk show host Vicki McKenna from News/Talk 1130 shared video that shows Kirkwood setting a flag on fire and shouting obscenities as people pass by.
Kirkwood told FOX6 News it’s definitely him in that video — but he insisted the flag he lit up isn’t the same flag shrouded in controversy after the convention.
“This particular character attempts to cause trouble every time he goes to a demonstration. We protected his right to be an (expletive),” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
The flag that was burned during the convention was taken by police and folded ceremoniously before it was put away as evidence.
“I think they did that flag proud and this police department proud just as officers did who first extinguished it and rescued it. Setting fire to a flag is protected speech. The challenge is what’s the venue in which you choose to do that? I would assert setting fire to something in the middle of a crowd of people is an inherently dangerous act,” Chief Flynn said.
“I’m not running from no one. I didn’t do nothing wrong,” Kirkwood said.
After this incident, Kirkwood said he was being harassed by police, and was considering a lawsuit.
Police brought up an arson conviction Kirkwood had in his past — and he admitted to that, but said that incident is behind him.